The Daily Gamecock

Thompson's time to take charge

Redshirt senior patient for his turn at QB

It’s finally Dylan Thompson’s time to shine.

For someone with only three career starts, not many teams in the SEC can feel as confident with their quarterback as South Carolina’s coaching staff does about Thompson. Then again, not every “inexperienced” SEC quarterback has a game-winning touchdown pass in the Outback Bowl and a win against Clemson on their resume.

In the time he spent making spot starts and relief appearances for the departed Connor Shaw, Thompson completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,827 yards and 14 touchdowns, with another five scores on the ground.

While Thompson is on the field this season, South Carolina fans will no longer glance toward the sidelines to see what Shaw’s status is and when he might return. That security, redshirt senior Thompson says, has really aided his comfort level.

“Knowing you have the whole game, that helps a lot,” Thompson said. “I try to just prepare well, the same as when I was backing up Connor because you never knew what was gonna happen there.”

As a redshirt sophomore, the Boiling Springs, South Carolina native got a taste of glory that perhaps kept him around when others would have jumped ship. After Shaw was injured in the season-opening victory against Vanderbilt, Thompson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns against East Carolina.

When Shaw went down near the end of that same season, Thompson picked up his second starting nod in the season finale against Clemson. Another 300-yard, three-touchdown performance, coupled with his heroics in the Outback Bowl a month later, eased fears about life after Shaw.

In Thompson’s mind, there was no reason to get worked up during his time as backup.

“I think it’s just part of the process that, when you come here, they don’t guarantee you playing time, unless you’re [Jadeveon Clowney] I guess, but I was not a great player,” Thompson said. “I just studied my butt off and tried to do what coaches asked me to do and just steadied the course.”

Although most are confident in Thompson’s abilities, given the fact that he has appeared in 25 games, he’s only played two games from start to finish. (He was pulled in the third quarter of his third career start last October at Missouri.)

Quarterbacks and tight ends coach G.A. Mangus doesn’t buy into the skepticism whatsoever, pointing out Thompson’s good performances largely outnumber his poor ones.

In today’s society that places significant emphasis on instant results, Mangus expressed gratitude that Thompson stuck around for the long haul.

“They’re not patient enough to work and develop and then get their shot,” Mangus said. “That’s why we’re so proud of Dylan and where he’s at right now. He’s just a great leader.”

The competition for the No. 2 quarterback duties has been ongoing between redshirt freshman Connor Mitch and redshirt sophomore Perry Orth. Mitch, who shared co-Freshman “Most Improved” honors for the offense in the spring, appears to have the slight advantage going into the season opener.

South Carolina is slated to play three ranked SEC teams in their first five games, giving Thompson the platform to show he can handle the wear and tear of an SEC schedule.

And all he wants is to get out on the gridiron Thursday and start to prove it.

“You don’t get too much of a rush out of sitting and watching, but it’s past that now,” Thompson said. “Coach Spurrier and Coach Mangus handled it great. I just waited my turn and now we’re excited to go play.”